“I’ve got to take myself out of the equation,” Rondo said the other day. “It’s about the team. I’ve been saying all I want to do is win a championship, so I have to live it. I have to walk it. I can’t just talk it. I know I have to be better.”
Better than he was during the video session between Games 2 and 3 of the Miami Heat series in last spring’s playoffs.
According to multiple sources, Rondo’s errors were being pointed out when he arose and began discussing the mistakes of his teammates. Loudly. Using harsh language.
Coach Doc Rivers got up and fired back, and Rondo threw a bottle that shattered the video screen. He bolted from the practice facility and was prevented from returning when he tried later.
As Bulpett goes on to point out, there are two sides to Rondo. The one described above, and the selfless hero who finished out Game 3 of that series with his arm hanging out of it's socket. Which one will show up more often as the Celtics move forward? The answer to that could likely determine the fate of the franchise and the player's tenure with them.
It's no secret that Danny Ainge has tried to move Rondo, and the young point guard isn't naive. When many Celtics fans hear his name they remember moments like his historic performance against the Cavaliers in the 2010 playoffs. However, there's other factors that have made Ainge want to move Rondo for someone like Chris Paul.
Rondo and Doc Rivers have clashed plenty of times over the years, not just that time when Rondo broke the TV Screen. Rondo often does not take criticism well, something he acknowledges himself.
"I’m very passionate about the game," he says. "I think I’m a student of the game, but at the same time I have to do a better job of taking criticism. In crunch time or when things aren’t going my way, I still have to know how to take criticism."
The trade rumors should serve as a reminder to Rondo. If he doesn't show that he has the maturity to handle the role of the franchise player in a major sports market, he won't last long in green. It's a fact that Rondo seems to have acknowledged, and something he's working dilligently to fix.
“I’m not going to point the fingers on anybody,” Rondo said. “Any relationship problems I have with anybody on the team or anybody on the coaching staff, I have to do better as a player and as a leader. You know, I didn’t ask for this role, but it’s part of it — for one, being a point guard, for two, the way I play. So I just have to embrace it better. Each year I think I’m getting better. I may have my incidents, but each year I think I’ve handled criticism a lot better, I’ve been a lot more patient, and I think I’ve grown. KG actually came up to me and told me he was proud of me at how mature I’ve seemed in the first few days. But it’s not just two days; it’s going to have to be consistent throughout the season. That’s what P (captain Paul Pierce [stats]) told me the other day: You can’t pick and choose when you’re going to be a leader. You have to do it every day. That’s the biggest thing for me. It’s not just in the games, it’s in practice and in shootarounds in the morning. . . . I’m the first guy out there that people are looking at. You know, I’ve got the ball, so if I’m going to lollygag, then it’s like, OK, well, we’ve got the day off. That can’t be.
“There can’t be any inconsistency about that as far as in my game this year. And there won’t be, because I’ve embraced that role. All eyes are on me, and I’m OK with that.”
If what Rondo is saying is true, then his eyes should peer out from a Celtics uniform until he plays no more.
But, as Rondo said himself, he has to live it not just talk it.